Much, if not all, good that happens in our lives is providential or Providential.
What do I mean? The Latin root of providential is “providentia,” which means to have foresight, forethought, or prudence in our actions. When we capitalize it, the meaning is enhanced by the noble idea suggesting a favorable outcome with Divine assistance to greater purpose.
PROVIDEN’TIAL— Effected by the providence of God; referable to divine providence; proceeding from divine direction or superintendence; as the providential contrivance of things; a providential escape from danger. How much are we indebted to God’s unceasing providential care!Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language 1828
It is providence that leads us to prepare ourselves with education, to practice dedication and to seek life experience. In doing so we put ourselves in the position to have Providence guide us to our quest, mission, and destiny. Providence’s hand must be preceded by providence’s presence.
And like all heroes on a providential and Providential journey, we are writing the stories of our lives as we go, assigning meaning and hoping one day our stories will outlast us. This is because stories are a guide. As humans we relate to stories as they teach the how and the why of the human experience. A great story touches our heart, teaches a truth, shapes our life, and liberates our mind and soul as we project ourselves into the action. The ultimate hero may then be you and I as we create a narrative around our lives by Providential rendezvous with providential preparation.
One Story Stands Above Them All
Consider the greatest story ever told where young Mary as a virgin is told she would bear a child named Jesus (meaning God is help or Savior) who would save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) To which she asks, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” To which the angel “answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee… For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:34-37)
This is how a Providential plan began and was accomplished. What was then needed was the providence of a young man, Joseph, who had the courage to provide for and take his young bride to Jerusalem. The providence was his professional and temporal preparations—having a donkey, perhaps some money, and other resources to provide for the journey. What didn’t exist through preparation might be found Providentially along the way—like finding a place to bed down for the night in the little hamlet of Bethlehem.
A Providential star eventually led three wise men from the east to the place of the child, where they provided the providence of gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts. Providentially this likely helped to provide the providence of a necessary escape to Egypt while the wicked King Herod had all children under the age of two murdered.
The providence of Joseph and Mary making their way out of Egypt to settle in the obscure village of Nazareth provided a Providential path for providential learning. So ideal was Nazareth for nurtured learning that, “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) This was a stunning period of growth that took effort. Consider the obscure village of Galilee and Nazareth where he was raised. Even today it is simple and rural. Yet home and village provided the providential learning to bring about future Providential miracles.
Christ’s learning, understanding, and wisdom were astonishing as recorded in these verses. “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.” (Luke 2: 42-45) What a story! We lost our son! How did this happen?
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” (Luke 2: 46-48) Preparation provided the Providential outcome.
As summarized in Luke 2:52, he was providentially and Providentially prepared for his odyssey. “And Jesus increased in wisdom, and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
How did this story speak to you or inspire you? What truths did you learn? How has this story shaped your life? During December we will explore the power of providence, Providence, and story to liberate us.
Image attribution: The Flight Into Egypt, Giotto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons